Tad Sahara has led the Woodward volleyball team to several state titles in his impressive career as the head coach. We sat down with Coach Sahara to talk about his history with volleyball, what he likes about coaching, and the biggest accomplishments of his coaching career.
War Eagle Watch: How did you get into coaching? What were the biggest reasons you wanted to coach?
Tad Sahara: I first started coaching when a friend asked me to help coach. The reason I agreed to coach is because I love the game of volleyball, and this opportunity gave me a chance to be more involved in the sport that I love. My very first practice coaching, I soon found out I loved coaching and teaching when I saw the dramatic improvements in players after one session. I live for these “aha moments” as both a coach and teacher.
WEW: Tell us a little about your background in volleyball — were you a player in high school/college? What drew you to the sport, either as a coach or as a player?
TS: Growing up in the south, there really are not many opportunities for boy’s volleyball, so aside from a bit of intramural volleyball in college, I only started playing after I graduated from college. I started with playing wallyball, which is basically volleyball inside a racquetball court, and playing off walls. From wallyball I started playing outdoor doubles or triples (beach or grass), and ultimately I started playing indoor 6s. As I started to improve I began playing in competitive tournaments, and during the summer I played outdoor tournaments almost every weekend when I was younger, and would play indoor tournament about twice a month in the winter.
I enjoy the sport because it is the ultimate of team sports, in which you rely on every member of the team. As a player, I never was the most athletic or physically gifted, but I felt I could make a difference in the team with my effort and attitude. I think when you look at most team sports, a player’s value is based on the quality of the player and how much he or she makes others around them better. For me, volleyball is such a momentum sport, and the importance of staying positive is greatly magnified.
WEW: What have been the biggest challenges for you in your coaching career? How have you overcome them?
TS: Perhaps the biggest challenge in coaching is continuing to keep things fresh, and to enjoy the process. I coach volleyball year-round between school and the club season, and the last thing that I want is for volleyball to be dull or boring. I think the thing that has helped greatly is that I get to coach pole vaulting in the spring which is so different than volleyball. This different experience seems to rejuvenate me, and appreciate the team aspect of volleyball more.
WEW: What is the best part of being a coach, for you?
TS: The best part of coaching for me is the connections that you develop with athletes and coaches that hopefully last beyond the season. I’m proud of the fact that six of our nine volleyball coaches are Woodward alumni. Not all of them played volleyball, but I’m sure that some coach along the way gave them this inspiration to coach. I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to work wish so many amazing people during my years here. The opportunity to see what our athletes do as adults is so fun to watch.
WEW: What have been the best moments of your Woodward coaching career?
TS: The best moments have been working with those teams or athletes that maximize their abilities through effort and hard work. When I look back at seasons, I think fondly of those teams and athletes that did this.
WEW: How do you feel the season went for the volleyball team? What are your continuing goals for the program?
TS: This year was a bit of a rebuilding year. In our first match of the season, our lineup did not have a single starter playing in the same position as we ended the previous year. Considering this starting position, we made great strides during the season. We hope to continue this growth next season. As far as goals for the program, it has always been to play with effort and enthusiasm. This goal for me is the same on the court as it is in the classroom.